I Am a Coal Miner
Dave Green is captain of the Coal River mine rescue team. He started as a miner at Massey Energy’s Marfork mine in 2004. He has been involved with mine rescue for three years and his team is responsible for 32 coal mines. Crutchfield asked him to explain what the academy meant to him.
Please forgive me for being slightly nervous, it’s an awesome honor to stand before you today.
I am a coal miner. My dad was a coal miner, my grandpa was a coal miner. I went underground in 2004 when I was 21 years old. Over the course of my career, I have laid track, shoveled coal and rock, moved belt, run buggies, miners, and bolted top. I have run man-trips, forklifts and scoops.
To the world, I am a coal miner. To regulatory agencies, I am a coal miner. To politicians, I am a coal miner. To Alpha Natural Resources, I am a coal miner. And…
I am proud of that.
When I go underground, I don’t work alongside other coal miners. Sure the folks who work with me have done all of the things I said I have done, but to me they are not just coal miners. They are much more than that. They are family.
Miners in the back call out “that’s right.”
Several years ago, I joined Alpha’s southern West Virginia regional mine rescue team. A big part of our responsibility as a team is to train at our various mine sites. I work with a group of men who are extremely passionate about what they do. Because, to them, they are not just training miners.
When we go to Horsecreek Eagle, we don’t just do a fire drill with a buggy man. We work with Wes, who ran a buggy behind me for years, who has a beautiful family, loves to lift weights and loves WVU football.
We don’t just don rescuers with a bolt man. We work with Joey, who bolted top behind me for years, who just recently joined the Amazing Grace Church, and just like me has two beautiful young daughters.
When we go to Slip Ridge, we don’t just train coal miners how to render first aid to a fallen coworker. We work with Jason, my first cousin, who runs a continuous miner, just like his daddy did before he was injured in a roof fall in a West Virginia mine and now barely walks and only with a cane, and just like his uncle did before he lost his life in a West Virginia mine. Jason knows all too well how unforgiving the mining environment can be.
Tears of pride now welling in his eyes…
To you, these men might just be coal miners. And, that’s O.K. There is a lot of pride in that. To me there’s much more. These men are my brothers and this is why this academy means so much to me. You see I want the best for my brothers. And, this is the best. This training facility is the best in the industry.
Someone recently asked me how safe I felt our mine sites were. My answer was that they are much safer than they have been in the past, but they are not nearly as safe as they will be in the future.
More miners in the back call out “that’s right!” in a revival like tone.
I know that in order for us to reach our goal as a company of zero fatalities and zero injuries, that we must be progressive. This facility is true progress. I am very thankful to work for a company who truly believes in protecting our greatest resource, our coal miners, our brothers and our sisters.
Dave Green’s speech is a powerful reminder of the caliber of the people who work at our coal mines, and to call this good man a brother is an honor—Kevin Crutchfield, president & CEO, Alpha Natural Resources.